Ensuring Legal Services

  About Us >>  
  Areas of Practice >>  
  Legal Updates >>  
  Judgments >>  
  Bare Acts >>  
  Court Websites >>  
  Cause Lists >>  
  Formats >>  
  Contact us >>  
  Blog >>  
  Disclaimer >>  
Indra Devi & Ors vs. Bagada Ram & Anr dated 2010-08-18



                    IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA



                     CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1508 OF 2004

Indra Devi & Ors.                                              Appellants

Bagada Ram & Anr.                                              Respondents


1.    This is the claimant's appeal from a motor accident claim case.


2.    On March 31, 1999, one Ramniwas while going on a motorcycle


dashed against the rear side of a truck that was headed in the same direction


as the motorcycle. Ramniwas died in the accident. His heirs and legal


representatives, the appellants before this Court, moved the MACT, Sojat,


Branch Jaitaran, District Pali in MACT Case No.59 of 1999 against the


owner of the truck and its insurer, the New India Assurance Company Ltd.


for compensation in terms of section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.


In course of the proceedings, the appellants claimed no fault compensation


under section 140 of the Motor Vehicles Act which was granted to them by


the Tribunal and the compensation amount was duly paid by the insurance


company. In the main proceeding, however, the Tribunal came to find and


hold that insofar as the accident is concerned there was no lapse on the part


of the driver of the truck nor was it due to any mechanical fault in the truck.


The accident was caused due to the careless and negligent driving of the


deceased himself. On that finding, the Tribunal naturally rejected the claim


of compensation on the principle of fault. But it did not stop there and went


on to hold that the insurance company was entitled to the refund of the


amount of no fault compensation along with interest @ 9% p.a. In the


operative portion of the judgment, the tribunal ordered as follows:


      "According to the above analysis, this claim is dismissed. An

      amount of Rs.50,000/- has been given to the applicants by The

      New India Assurance Co. Ltd. as an interim relief and The

      India Assurance Co. Ltd. will be entitled to have it back with

      9% interest p.a."


3.    The claimants took the matter to the High Court in appeal (Civil


Miscellaneous Appeal No.323 of 2002). The High Court dismissed the

appeal by judgment and order dated August 20, 2002. The High Court

agreed with the Tribunal's finding that the deceased alone was responsible


for the accident and hence, the claimants were not entitled to any


compensation. Unfortunately, the High Court did not address the issue of no


fault compensation and overlooked the direction of the Tribunal for refund


of the amount of interim compensation alongwith interest @ 9% p.a.


4.    The claimants are now before this Court aggrieved by the direction to


refund the amount of interim compensation to the insurance company

alongwith interest.

5.    The impugned direction is clearly erroneous and unsustainable in law.


The Tribunal has completely failed to realize the true nature and character of


the compensation in terms of section 140 of the Act. The marginal heading


to section 140 describes it as based `on the principle of no fault'. As the


expression `no fault' suggests the compensation under section 140 is


regardless of any wrongful act, neglect or default of the person in respect of

whose death the claim is made.

6.    We have examined the nature of the `no fault compensation' payable


under section 140 of the Act in Eshwarappa @ Maheshwarappa and Anr.


vs. C.S. Gurushanthappa and Anr. (Civil Appeal No.7049 of 2002), the


judgment in which is pronounced today. We, therefore, do not wish to


elaborate the point further. Suffice to say that in view of our judgment in


Civil Appeal No.7049 of 2002, the Tribunal was patently in error, in


directing for the refund of the amount of `no fault compensation' already


paid to the claimants, to the insurance company. The High Court was


equally in error in missing out this grave mistake in the judgment and order

passed by the Tribunal and not setting it right.

7.    The present appeal must, therefore, be allowed. The order of the


Tribunal insofar as it permits the insurance company (respondent no.2) to


recover the amount of interim compensation alongwith the interest from the

claimants/appellants is set aside.

8.    In the result the appeal is allowed but with no order as to costs.



                                                  (AFTAB ALAM)



                                                   (R.M. LODHA)

New Delhi
August 18, 2010.


© 2008-2014 Legal Approach